Light Stage #FridayFictioneers

The acrobats were like nothing ever seen before. Against the black stage backdrop, the men and woman were glowing neon lights come to life. They performed with a swiftness that years of practise had given them; they balanced on top of each other, swung from heights, juggled and walked on stilts.

The children wowed their wonder, cried their delight and gasped at the feats before them. When it as all over, the clapping echoed for an age and the acrobats bowed till their backs ached.

Back stage they celebrate and let their true fairy forms shine.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/08/26/28-august-2020/ with thanks).

Spy In the Garden

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I had to know what he was doing, it was like a addiction. I thought about him all the time since he’d left me. How was he doing? Was he eating okay? Did he have a new girlfriend yet?

I always tried to squish that thought down. Of course, he hadn’t moved on yet. He promised to always love me. How could there be anyone else?

From the bushes outside his parents’ house, I watched him sitting a table eating whilst his mother talk to him just out of view. I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

The bruises on his face were fading. He looked happier, he was smiling and nodding.

When was the last time he had smiled at me like that?

I balled my hands into fists, dried blood still in the lines and soil buried under my nails Anger filled me, burning in my chest like an immortal fire. I wanted him back. I needed him back! How could I live without him, my one true love?

I got out of the garden and went to the front door. I rang the bell.

Putting my hands behind my back, I fixed a smile on my lips and waited.

He answered the door.

His face turned white, his eyes growing large and his mouth trying to form words.

‘I’ve missed you, honey,’ I spoke in a breathy voice.

He shook his head and stumbled backwards.

‘Are you going to invite me in?’

‘You’re dead,’ he gasped out, ‘I killed you!’

Just A Little Spook

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The rustling under the bed woke Penny. Moving the duvet away, she peered under the bed, looking for the source the sound.

A faint glowing child stared back at her.

‘Who are you? Penny asked.

‘I am Sally,’ came the whispered reply.

‘Why are you under my bed?’ Penny demanded.

‘I was only playing,’ Sally answered and crawled out.

Penny turned on the lamp and saw that Sally was hovering off the floor and admitting her own light which was a pale cream colour. Sally had long hair that moved as if caught in the wind and it was the same with the long dress she wore.

‘Who are you playing with?’ Penny asked.

‘Nobody. I’m alone. I was practising my spooking.’ Sally mumbled as she spun on the spot.

‘Spooking?’ Penny wondered.

‘Yes, I am a ghost. It’s what we do. We scare people.’ Sally explained, ‘were you scared?’

Penny shook her head, ‘you look like a normal girl to me, expect for the glowing of course. How old are you?’

‘I am eight.’

‘So am I!’ Penny cried, ‘do you want to be my friend?’

Sally thought what to do as she drift to the floor and sat on the rug.

Penny could see right through Sally but Penny felt more fascinated than scared. Here was a friend just as she needed one and it didn’t matter if Sally was different. Didn’t Penny’s teacher, Mrs Greene, said ‘it was good everyone was unique like a snowflake because if everyone was the same the world would be a very boring place!’

‘Let’s play with the dollhouse,’ Penny said and got out of bed.

‘You really want to play with me?’ the ghost girl asked.

Penny nodded and went across the room to turn on the light. Her bedroom became more defined, showing that most of the room was taken up by toys and child size furniture.  The doll’s house was an impressive Victorian style wooden structure which at first glance someone might mistake for a real one. However it was only fifty or so years old and only loosely modelled on the manor it had been copied from. The house stood on it’s on table pushed against the back wall.

‘You’ve lost some of your glow now,’ Penny pointed out.

‘Yes,’ said Sally getting up and floating over to join Penny before the doll’s house, ‘light makes ghosts less visible because we are made up of light.’

‘Shall I turn it off again?’ Penny asked.

‘It’s fine. I can make myself more solid. See?’ the ghost girl spoke and before Penny’s eyes Sally became less see through.

Penny opened the front of the doll’s house and they looked inside. It was well made and each of the rooms was carefully decorated with real wallpaper and flooring. The correct furniture and decorations were in their right places and it looked like you could step inside and live a comfortable life inside.

There were four floors which explained why the doll’s house was so large. The ground floor had the front hallway in the middle, to the left was a large kitchen and to the right was divided into a servants’ sitting room and servant’s bedroom. The first floor had a long sitting room on the right and a small dining room next door. The third floor had two bedrooms- the master room and a guest room. Finally, the attic had a large nursery and a joint bedroom for the children.

The dolls were little china figures and they were around the same age as the house and had been originally made for the fake manor. The dolls could be made to stand or sit or hold things. There was a father, a mother, three children- a boy, a girl and a baby, there was a cook, a nanny and maid. Each doll was easily distinguished by their clothes; the family wore brightly coloured and fancy outfits and the servants were drab.

‘My great grandfather made this for my granny when she was a child,’ Penny explained, ‘I never met him but mum says his job was making toys. He made other doll’s houses but we only have this one now. We have to be careful because it’s old.’

‘It is really pretty,’ Sally said, ‘I never had a doll’s house.’

‘When did you become a ghost?’ Penny asked then wondered if that was a rude question.

‘I am not sure. Time is not important for me anymore.’

‘Did you live in this house before?’

‘I do not know. I think I lived around here but my house is gone now,’ Sally said sadly.

‘That’s okay, you can just live here with me,’ Penny responded, ‘here.’

Penny handed the mother doll to Sally and the ghost girl made the doll hover.

‘Can’t you touch or hold anything?’ Penny asked in surprise.

‘This is the only way I can do things. I use my energy with my mind,’ Sally explained.

‘That’s pretty cool!’

‘Do you think so?’ the ghost asked shyly.

Penny nodded quickly, ‘I wish I could move things with my mind!’

Sally giggled and moved the mother doll into a the living room and sat her down in a red chair by the glowing fireplace.

For a time, the two girls played then with a yawn and a rub of her eyes, Penny looked back at her bed.

‘Do ghosts sleep?’ Penny asked.

‘Sort of. It’s hard to describe….’ Sally answered.

‘I think,’ Penny answered as she got up, ‘I should go back to bed now.’

Sally didn’t reply but Penny felt the air get colder and sadder.

‘Will you come back and play with me tomorrow?’

‘Could I?’ Sally cried.

‘Yes,’ Penny said with a small laugh as climbed into bed, ‘everynight if you want!’

‘I would like that,’ Sally declared.

‘And we can be best friend,’ Penny uttered through a yaw as she snuggled down.

‘I would like that very much!’ the ghost girl said.

Now Not Arriving On Platform 8

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The lights reminded me of a disco but the art deco walls didn’t fit in with a club scene. Nor did the clean, white stripe floor and the plastic seats in the middle which were empty. On either side of the platform were the train lines just lit up by a touch of green and pink light.

I was waiting. Walking slowly with only the tread of my shoes and whisking clothes making noise. I wasn’t wondering why I was alone or why it was quiet, I was just happy to be away from the bustle of the full platforms.

I felt the vibrations then heard a train coming into another section hidden by a wall and earth. I imagined all those people pushing their way on as people tried to get off. The bang of cases against legs, the howls of children and the fight over seats.

Smiling, I was glad to be away from all of that. Going over to the overhead boards, I looked up and read what they both said. Frowning, I wondered what had gone wrong because both signs said ‘no service.’

But I had triple checked and my train was coming into platform eight at five past three. I checked my watch and saw it was almost three. Of course, I had thought that a few other people might be waiting here too but this long haul, night train was normally quiet.

Were was the announcement to declare the next train? Perhaps, I had got it wrong…

I left and went back up to the stairs. I felt another train coming. I turned and saw a flashing of lights from the dark tunnel ahead. Maybe, I hadn’t been wrong?

I stepped back down and walked a little way along the platform which must have been new because way was it so clean and bright? The lightening too, I had thought odd but it could have always been like that. Who pays that close attention to a train station decor?

The train came into shape and I saw the destination on the front and it was where I wanted to go. Overhead, a crackling came to life and a voice spoke distorted words that I couldn’t make out but I guessed it was the notice for my train.

The doors open. No one got off.

I was the only one to get on.

Under

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The underground world had been closed for so long because it hadn’t been needed. Some sections had been turned into tour routes for those interested in history and ghost hunting. It was never thought that the space would ever be required again.

Then the outbreak happened. It was pushed off as a simple disease before levelling up to a world sweeping plague. Millions of people died but they didn’t stay in their graves.

The government repaired, improved and kitted out the underground cities, factories and farms once more. People moved in, coming not just from the country above but from others as well. Builders had to construct new sections and everyone had to pull together to survive.

The world above become ravaged by war and death, disease ran wild and people returned from the other side, their bodies reanimated, their hearts and brains nonfunctional.

Anybody who died in the underground world was thrown out the steel doors and just left there. Burials, prayers and rites no longer had a place and the families could only hope their loved ones stayed dead.

 

The Scent of Roses

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The Lady hadn’t left her home when she had passed on. It wasn’t that she was trapped there, she could come and go as much as she wanted. The Lady had loved the house so much that she couldn’t help but walk the corridors and through rooms still.

The Lady was glad people still came and stayed in her house. She loved hearing them praise the decor and paintings, the gardens and the water fountains. Also, it was so nice to hear the laughter of children once more as they dashed from room to room.

She knew her presence was felt because people talk about smelling her perfume. It was one she had made herself using roses from the garden and water from the spring. The Lady felt pleased by this, she liked them to know she was still here watching over her house.

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The abandoned theme park was where we hung out. I loved the creepy feeling of the dilapidated buildings. All my friends were daring each other to do stupid things and I got picked to slide down the helter-skelter.

I climbed the rusty steps and held on to the blue painted chipped handrail. I made it to the top and hurried into the dark mouth. I felt the helter skelter shaking as I shuffled downwards.

There was a snapping and groaning of plastic and metal. I tried to run but my head hit the tunnel top and stumbling down my belly I blacked out.

Screaming from the girls outside brought me back to then all sound faded as I shook the pain from my head.

I carried on sliding down, feeling all the bumps of the joints underneath me.

Finally, I reached the end and slide out into a dirty puddle topped with leaves. Breathing deeply, I waited for the cheers of my friends but none came. Instead, other voices crowded the air welcoming me to Fun Land.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2020/05/13/crimsons-creative-challenge-79/ with thanks).

The Cry #FFFC

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Magic was something that everyone had. We were all born with it but had different quantity of it. Of course, I had been doubly blessed and sent off to be with grandma as soon as I could walk. Here at her cottage and gardens, I and the other apprentices learnt the crafts and what our lives really meant.

Though I had often wondered, late at night or whilst sweeping out the pig pens, what the other side of magic looked like. There were many different kinds but the Dark was the most fascinating. And despite what everyone thought, it wasn’t all evil. I doubt any of the rumours surrounding those people were true but unless you were on their side, you didn’t know.

Leaning on the broom I was daydreaming about the dark witches when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned, thinking I was about to be told off for not working but it was Elan.

She was dressed like me, in a plain blue working dress but she had on a leather apron which meant she had been working in the lab. On her head was a small, bronze tiara which marked her as head apprentice.

Elan began speaking slowly and moving her hands in a directional way.

I watched and waited. Trying to figure out what she wanted. Sometimes, I picked up what people were saying easily and other times I didn’t.

I had been born deaf. I could speak a little but preferred not to. I could lip read and hand signing was always useful. I had been trying to learn how to mind read but it was tricky.

Elan paused, signed and took out a notepad. We could all read and write. She wrote something then turned it to me and I read;

Go fetch a mandrake 

I shook my head, the colour draining from my face.

Elan snatched the broom from me and hit me over the head with it. Straw and muck rained into my hair and headache like pain thumped into my skull.

I turned to get away from her and she began beating me with the broom. I ran off and I guess she must have been shouting after me because I saw the looks on the other girls faces.

All the way to the back of the garden, were the dreaded greenhouse was. Ivy covered the glass thickly, blocking out most of the light. The door too was covered but with a sharp tug the ivy would give way. Dead plants and broken pots were scattered around. A rubbish dump lay around here and wild roses grow amongst other things that had survived and planted themselves.

I crept up to the door which I know was stupid. I felt for the handle and slide the door back. Stale air crept out, hot with the heat of summer. I went in and didn’t look around. The layouts were all the same in each greenhouse, even the order of plants by ages. New seeds to the back, the oldest at the front and then a procession of growth in between.

The pots were black hard clay and sticking out of them were dark, thick leaves. Elan hadn’t told me which one to pick. I debated going back to ask her but decided to take a chance and picked not from the first group- the oldest- but from the middle and still fully grown.

Picking up one of the mandrakes, I walked carefully to the cottage and to the back door. I guess the girls who had been around before had told the others what I had been sent to to and they had all left the area. No one wanted to be around, even outside incase something happened the mandrake got loose.

The kitchen door was open but the room empty. A well stocked fire and going in the massive fireplace and pot was bubbling. Vegetables half cut lay on the table and a plate with the remains of a meal had also been abandoned like even the servants had known my task.

The door to the basement was the lab and I went slowly down the stairs which were lit with candles that dripped globs of red wax. I smelt burning of something harsh which I couldn’t put my finger on. I felt the steps more then seeing them and arrived at the last one before I knew it.

Lowering the mandrake which had been blocking my view. I saw the lab which was full of tables, bookcases and equipment then ahead of me was an open doorway. I saw a shadow go past and guessed everyone was in there.

I walked over and stood in the doorway. There was grandma, Elan and three other woman. The room was circler and empty but for the markings on the floor, the black candles and a bowl which was were the burning was coming from.

Elan waved me over and I walked around the markings on the floor, the bricks of the wall scraping my back. I held out the plant to her, but Elan shook her head and pointed me over to grandma. I went with dread filling me. I didn’t need a note telling me what I had to do as I could sense it.

Grandma handed me a dagger then floated across the floor. As one the witches put earmuffs on and pressed themselves near to the door. They watched me whilst their months carried on moving, I guessed saying the words to the spell they were casting.

I set the pot on the floor and grab all of the leaves of the mandrake in one hand. I didn’t want to do it. Why couldn’t they have picked someone else? I put one foot onto the lip of the pot and gritted my teeth. Of course, I knew why they always picked me; because I was deaf and less affected by the mandrakes’ evil crying.

I yanked as hard as I could, felt the soil give way and the leaves move up in my hand. I shut my eyes and kept pulling. The dagger shook in my other hand and I felt my fingers start to go numb.

I opened my eyes and saw that the top of the mandrake was coming up. Soil was raining down and the pot was cracking under the pressure. I grabbed tighter, knowing as soon as the mandrake felt air that it would try and borrow back down. Breaking the pot would help but would also send the mandrake into shock and that kind of scream could kill everyone.

I shut my eyes again, concentrated and pulled as if my life depended on it. I felt the pot and more soil giving way. Something brushed my skin and I opened my eyes to see a small branches trying to curl around me.

With the dagger I tapped the branch away and pulled the mandrake up the rest of the way. The horrible thing popped out. It was a dark brown colour, all wrinkled and covered in soil. Many branches that made up the limbs were thrashing around, dirt going everywhere and roots were desperately clinging to whatever they could, including myself.

It was hard to pick facial features out of the folds of flesh but I could just make out the screwed up eyes either side of the bulbous nose. The mouth was torn up in a terrifying scream showing off rows and rows of fangs.

I could hear the screaming. It rang in my head and made me feel dizzy. I was deaf, so the mandrake’s crying and screaming should have no effect on me but for some reason it did. Before I could feel anything else, I stepped into the circle and placed the mandrake into the bowl of burning herbs and green liquid.

I swung the dagger up and brought it down into the mandrake. I didn’t want to see if I had killed it or not. I fled the room, tripping over someone’s foot as I did so.

Laying sprawled across the cold lab floor, I felt the door shoving me further along as someone shut it behind me. I felt sick, dizzy and there was a ringing my head that I knew shouldn’t have been there.

I let time passed for awhile then got up on my hands and knees. I crawled to the stairs. Feeling like I was a ship on a stormy sea and at any moment I was going to be tossed into those monstrous waves. Reaching the stairs didn’t stop it. I climbed them like a baby for the first time and at the top I pushed opened the door and lay down on the warm kitchen floor.

I threw up, everything coming out of me and covering the floor. I was spinning like a child’s top and flying off into nothingness. After everything in my stomach was gone, I dry heaved until blood appeared.

I hugged myself, gulped in air and curled up on the floor. Tears washed my faces and the screaming in my head wouldn’t stop. I felt like I was dying.

Slowly, everything began to fade. My body felt better, though exhausted. I stretched out, feeling waves of sleep taking me.

Next time, Elan could get her own mandrake.

 

(Inspired by; https://fivedotoh.com/2020/05/11/fandangos-flash-fiction-challenge-65/ with thanks).

Home #WWP

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I kept dreaming of a house I could never go back to. Each time, the house was the setting for a different story; a fire in which my friends died, a place of safety from a invisible monster or a brothel where I had to work to survive.

It was my great-grandfather’s home. The place I had lived in for ten years after my mother give me up. She was only fifteen, I forgive her. Nothing bad happened to me there so why was it in my dreams?

Perhaps, it was because the house had long been knocked down and was now haunting me? Can that happen? Can you have a ghost house?

 

(Inspired by; https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2020/05/09/weekend-writing-prompt-156-home/ with thanks).

 

Lycanthropy #AtoZChallenge

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Lycanthropy – supernatural transformation of a person into a wolf

The full moon was rising in a squid ink sky. Dakota could sense it, his skin was crawling and the creature shifted his muscles and bones as it got ready to realise.

Dakota drove out to the forest were rain still dripped off the spring tree leaves. He followed an old hunters’ track and parked in front of the long abandoned cabin. He got out, took his clothes off and left everything in the truck.

Dakota walked deep into the forest, not worried about getting lost as his keen smell would led him back to the truck. The creature was always with him and he could use its’ supernatural senses anytime Dakota wanted. Unfortunately, there was a price to pay and that was what the creature always demanded – freedom.

He didn’t know what it was about the cycle of the moon that the creature seemed to follow. He guessed it was part of the curse. Dakota had tried everything to keep the creature in but every full moon the creature took total control and there was nothing he could do.

Out here in the forest was the safest place to be. There was space for the creature to roam and to not come across anybody. Dakota felt a twist in his gut, he remembered everything about these nights like he was watching a live movie. So far he hadn’t killed a person but he dreaded doing so.

Pain raced through his body and Dakota dropped to the ground. Everything in his body was on fire. He gritted his teeth and tried not to cry out in pain as the transformation happened. He felt his spine changing first then his limbs and head. It took seconds but it felt like years.

Dakota slummed on the damp soil, breathing deeply and felt the numbness kicking in. It was a relief. Darkness cover his sight and he feel unconscious.

When he stirred, he had fully changed. The creature’s eyes were sharp and able to see in the dark. His tall ears pricked to all sounds of the forest which had the same volume as a heavy metal concert. The creature’s nose sniffed deeply the so many wonderful smells of live. The creature shook it’s body and felt the mass covering of fur fly then settle back into place.

The creature shifted soil beneath its paws. The urge to hunt and kill growing. Throwing a massive head back, the creature let rip a monster’s howl.

It was free once more.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)